“Move it along!” Five ways to keep meetings moving

“Move it along!”

When I was a kid growing up in the New York City area, the police officers directing traffic often told people slowing to stare at an accident scene to “Move it along!”

The cop on the street knew people were curious when they came upon the unexpected, but they had to keep traffic flowing. At times the traffic had to keep moving to prevent even further danger to the passers-by.

Meetings that move along slowly require the same action and command: “Move it along!”

Most meetings can be finished quickly, efficiently and within 30 minutes using these five methods:

  1.  Start on Time – Even if the boss is late, you can begin the discussion and begin making decisions. Unless your boss in the insecure type, she will appreciate your desire to begin on time and move towards a conclusion.
  2.  Assign a Scribe to Write and Speak – The ideal situation has a white board or large pad on hand for note taking, but a simple pad of paper will do. The scribe should not only write the meeting decisions and main points down, but they should vocalize each point. Example: “Move the file boxes to storage each Tuesday. Got it. Next?”
  3.  Claim Assignments to Move Forward – A group of people in a meeting will keep talking until someone states they will take action. It is as simple as saying, “I will be happy to call the storage company for an estimate to move last year’s files and email the quote to the group.” The group is left with no choice but to move on.
  4.  Make Note of the Time and Direct an Ending – At the twenty-five minute point in a meeting, work a time check into a statement, “We have about five minutes left, if we can decide who will check the box supply, we can do the rest by email tomorrow.” This statement checks the remaining time and begins to wrap things up.
  5.  Repeat Closing Statements Until the Meeting Chair Gets the Hint – You will be surprised that even the most grumpy boss can take a hint when it is time to conclude the meeting. Simple statements like, “So it sounds like we can move files along each Tuesday once we clear out last year’s file and we are sure we have a supply of boxes on hand.” It is a risky move, but it is hard to argue when an obvious conclusion to a meeting is presented.

Meetings are huge time sucks. Well run meetings that start on time, have a limit and make clear decisions are what make many organizations great.

Be willing to move the meeting along. Be a meeting traffic cop. Understand some people’s desire to go slowly, but be willing to say, “Move it along!”

 Please comment below: Can you really see yourself following this advice? Are you willing to take a chance to move a meeting along even if your boss is running the meeting? Why or why not?


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